[00:20] Opening / Introduction
- I (AJ Khanijow) am the founder and CEO of Fulfyld, an e-commerce fulfillment company that specializes in B2C shipments and home delivery. Fulfyld is based in Huntsville, Alabama.
[01:00] Tell us about your background. Where did you grow up? Where did you go to school and what did you study?
- I grew up in Huntsville, Alabama.
- I earned an industrial engineering degree from Auburn University. The industrial engineering program was great because it gave me a good background in both engineering and business.
[01:30] What was your first job?
- My first job was in the business intelligence space for a consulting company.
- Shortly after, I became a quality engineer for an automotive company. Automotive supply chains are big and complex. While working in automotive, I was exposed to supply chain best practices and a variety of different 3rd party logistics providers.
[02:15] When and why did you start your company?
- I started Fulfyld about five years ago in 2014
- Early on, the company was a manufacturer of packaging for the United States military.
- We got into the fulfillment space almost by accident when a client of ours sold some products online and didn’t know how to get them shipped to their customers.
- Today, the company’s focus is on e-commerce fulfillment and shipping directly to the consumer (home delivery).
[03:25] Take us through the process of selecting an e-commerce fulfillment partner.
- First e-commerce companies should conduct a thorough internal assessment of their company to determine what they want from an e-commerce fulfillment partner. Companies should understand all the moving parts internally and what exactly your partner is going to be doing vs what will be managed in-house.
- Next, determine suitable locations for e-commerce fulfillment. Fulfillment locations should be close to carrier transportation hubs, ports, customers, and suppliers.
- Decide if you would like to fulfill externally or internally. Figure out how your ERP and e-commerce platform will integrate with your e-commerce fulfillment partner.
[05:00] What comes after the internal assessment when selecting an e-commerce fulfillment partner?
- Cultural Fit: How does your business fit within the culture of your fulfillment partner? I always look to see if I can hang out with potential partners, that way you knows if it will be a good fit.
- [6:30] Range of Services: Ensure they offer all the services necessary for your supply chain to succeed. If your partner makes a critical mistake, it could be detrimental to your business.
- [7:30] Third-Party Logistics: Will they be able to accommodate all of your SKUs?
- [9:15] Technology Integration: Many traditional 3PLs specialize in TL and LTL shipping so their systems may not be suitable for managing small parcel shipments. Booking a dozen TL shipments is very different from processing thousands of small parcel shipments. To manage that volume of customer orders, you must have the right systems (technology) for the job.
- [11:00] Location: Your partner needs to be in close proximity to the carrier terminals. For instance, Huntsville is great for us because it is close to three of the biggest hubs (terminals) for small parcel carriers: Louisville, Memphis, and Atlanta. Make sure you are in a state that is low cost and good for business. The labor rate in L.A. is almost double what it is in Alabama.
- [13:20] Dedicated Customer Service: The ability to pick up the phone and talk to someone who is dedicated to your account is something I highly recommend. Essentially, your e-commerce fulfillment partner is running your supply chain so communication is critical. Problems must be identified and solved quickly, which means you can’t be directed to a call center – you need an account manager who knows your business.
- [15:50] E-commerce Experience: Having experience in the e-commerce business is a requirement. E-commerce companies are usually young companies, so they need to select an e-commerce fulfillment partner who is experienced in e-commerce fulfillment, small parcel and B2C shipping. There are large, established 3PLs who have great capabilities but know very little about e-commerce fulfillment.
- [18:25] Operational Excellence: To be successful, your fulfillment partner must have great operations. Ask questions about how they manage orders. Do they have defined processes? Does their technology and order management system allow you to view things in real time? Do they have relationships with the small parcel carriers?
- [20:20] Reputation and References: Ask your prospective partner for references and talk to some of their current customers. Check out their LinkedIn company page and look at LinkedIn profiles for some of their employees. LinkedIn can tell you quite a bit about the size and capability of a company.
- [22:10] Contract: Review their contract and determine if it is fair. Is the contract biased and filled with unnecessary legal jargon? Are you being charged ridiculous fees? If you are picking a strategic partner, the contact shouldn’t be transactional. Make sure the contract is transparent and your interests are aligned.
- [24:20] Engage the Cross-functional Team: Perhaps the most important thing you can do when selecting an e-commerce fulfillment partner is to engage the cross-functional team (accounting, sales, engineering, operations, etc..) in the process. An e-commerce fulfillment partner is an extension of your company and it touches virtually every function, so get input from each functional area. Your e-commerce fulfillment partner is the beating heart of the business because they are ones who convert an order into a delivery and hopefully a satisfied customer.
[25:50] What’s new at Fulfyld?
- We are launching a new program this month, where we will pay our customers back $10-$30 for any order that is not shipped the same day. If we receive the order by 2:00 pm, we will ship it out that day. We have successfully piloted the program with a few of our customers and now we are launching for all our customers.
- We know e-commerce fulfillment and this program allows us to demonstrate both our operational expertise and our commitment to our customers.
Fulfyld website: https://www.fulfyld.com
Fulfyld LinkedIn company profile: https://www.linkedin.com/company/fulfyld/
Ajesh (AJ) Khanijow’s LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/akhanijow/
Contact Fulfyld: https://www.fulfyld.com/contact/contact-1